Laptop Picks

Laptop Picks

A Convenient Laptop Buying Guide

A Convenient Laptop Buying Guide

Ever since the device was launched, the laptop has enjoyed a good deal of appreciation from users all over the world. For one, it was made for convenience, and individuals can take the item with them on their travels. While the initial laptops were bulky and a bit heavy, their compact size made them travel friendly.

Thanks to technology, laptops have undergone many upgrades; these days it is normal to see sleek, thin laptops with powerful features. Even better, you can even score the best laptop under $500 today, without scrimping on crucial features that you see on high-end models.

Stumped for a laptop that fits your taste? Here are some more suggestions.

Home users

Home users often go for a laptop that is a good replacement for a desktop. Laptops that suit the needs of home users are often standard models of 15”. There are plenty of laptop models in this category with affordable prices. Recommended specs for users include 2 GB to 4GB of RAM and, if preferred, a model with an optical drive.

Students

Students are always after a laptop under $500 to suit their budgets. Because they often use the unit for schoolwork, the laptop has to have excellent battery life and it should be compact and portable as well.

Netbooks are always recommended, or a mini-laptop can do the job. These are great options since the battery life on these units are often above average and they are compact to boot. However, these units’ features are on a smaller scale; the screen, keyboard, and CPU are often small and underpowered.

Students also have to figure whether they are going to use the laptop for heavier activities like playing high-end games, use demanding software for schoolwork, or regularly browse the internet for longer periods of time. By answering these questions, students may be lead to a laptop option that will fit their needs.

A good recommendation is to search for netbooks with a slightly larger size like a 13” model. Models like this are equipped with a bigger CPU so they have good power.

Travelers

Busy individuals who often have to do the traveling rounds for work need a unit that has enough power, is compact and portable, and has an excellent build so it will be safe from impacts.

A good recommendation would have to be a laptop that measures 12-15”. These units often have better computing power, have a great, sturdy construction, but are still portable and lightweight enough for travel.

But some models of these laptops do not have an optical drive. If you only use hard disks or USBs, then these laptops still make good options. They have a higher price compared to a standard netbook, but investing in such units will benefit your needs in the long run.

Gamers

Gamers often make use of desktop computers for gaming due to their adaptable features. However, at this time, laptops aimed for games have vastly improved and are more powerful and speedier than ever. Individuals who want a laptop to play games should look for a model with excellent processing capabilities and a top-notch graphics and video card.

In addition, a bigger screen or monitor is also a requirement for some. The screen sizes for these laptops usually range from 15-17”, even bigger. If you are really concerned with a full-on gaming experience, you can go ahead and buy a gaming laptop with a 17” screen or even bigger if you have the budget for it.

There are, in fact, high-end gaming laptops that allow for lots of customizations and upgrades to further improve your gaming experience. Oftentimes, these units are excellent investments since they bring added value.

Keeping the laptop cool and preventing it from overheating

If you usually use your laptop for heavier tasks like editing videos or making use of design software, then you can anticipate some heat to be generated from your unit.

Using a laptop at higher temperatures for an extended period of time can bring about hardware malfunction; it can damage important components like motherboards, video cards, and hard drives. In this part, we are going to discuss several potential causes of overheating in order to help you identify the problem before it gets worse, plus, we’ll look at solutions.

Go for a cooling pad to prevent blocked air vents

Dirt and dust can clog the laptop’s air vents: Individuals who use computers and laptops should be aware of this if they tend to use their units in areas that are prone to dust, or has minimal air circulation.

Overheating is mostly caused by the congestion of the air vents. Air vents are the tiny grill spots situated on the sides or the underside of a laptop; they allow cool air to flow to maintain lower temperatures on the RAM, processor and hard disk.

A segment of the unit operates like a vacuum cleaner. It pulls in air from one part, then blows it from another. The vents are placed there in order to get cooler air, and drive all that hot air out of the laptop. Because of this process, you will observe after a few months of use that the fan and heatsink will sooner or later be covered with dust. If these parts are not cleaned, their efficiency reduces and this leads to overheating.

Laptops have 1-2 small fans that maintain the coolness of all internal parts. In case clogging of these parts occurs, these parts will not work at their maximum; because of this, one or two of the fans will be challenged. This is the reason why using a laptop cooler pad helps since it will take some of the brunt that internal fans have to deal with.

Make use of a cooling pad to prevent damage to the internal fans

Laptops often make use of at least one internal fan in order to cool its processor and other important internal parts. A majority of laptops make use of fans that operate based on the processor’s amount of work.

Hence if the processor is frequently used, the fans will also work faster in order to keep up with ridding the unit of heat. If you hear a buzz that is higher in pitch than the usual, it means that the fan is matching the heavier amount of work that the processor is dealing with.

A damaged fan will be incapable of acting in response to shifts made in the workload of a processor, and this can lead to malfunctioning of the processor itself and other components due to overheating. It can also severely lower the performance of the operating system.

Wrong positioning

One benefit of a laptop is that the unit is built for convenience so you can pretty much take it with you anywhere; now, you will not be obligated to sit in front of a desktop computer anymore. The lightweight models can be brought anywhere so you can work on just about any spot you please—the bed, the couch, on the floor, in coffee shops.

However, doing so will allow more potential causes in the clogging of air vents. Unlike the earlier issue mentioned, where the air vents were clogged with dust, this time around, the vents might be blocked by the surface location where you are working from. The positioning of a laptop has an impact in whether or not the unit will overheat.

If you frequently use your laptop like a desktop computer by using it from a stationary position, it must be in a spot where it has a nice source of fresh air. Furthermore, the vents must not be blocked, and it must not be positioned near other electronic parts that also produce heat.

There are lots of cooling systems for laptops available on the market which can curb this problem. There are systems with built-in fans to push the hot air away, while there are some that will raise the back of the laptop in order to let air flow from there. There are also systems that are composed of a crystalline gel that assists in cooling down hot spots.

Software issues

Laptops, at times, overheat due to malfunctioning software, particularly software aimed to safeguard the laptop by controlling the use of cooling fans. For instance, you might have upgraded from Windows 7 to 10 only to discover that the system software made to manage the cooling fans no longer operates as it should.

There are software programs that are made to prevent a laptop from overheating; they operate by inspecting the computer to determine any unwanted applications that might be running which are adding a heavier load than usual on the processor.

As soon as the problem is spotted, the software will shut the application down to reduce power usage of these unwanted applications. These software programs can be a beneficial tool for restoring a laptop to better operations if the program is designed for the device.

Using a laptop cooling pad to operate at a higher room temperature

If the laptop is used in a room with a hot environment, its temperature will rise as well. Making use of a laptop inside a hot location or outside where the sun is will quickly lead to overheating as well: hence, it is wise that you prudently select your work settings.

These are the usual causes of overheating that take place in a laptop. You can prevent the onset of overheating by using any of these suggestions.

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Product

Price

Rating

   Acer’s Aspire 15 E5-575-33BM  $$  3.9/5
   Dell Inspiron 15 5000  $$  3.9/5
   HP Probook 455  $$  4.2/5
   IdeaPad 300 from Lenovo  $$  4.0/5
   ASUS C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook  $$$  4.4/5
   Lenovo ThinkPad E560 Laptop  $$  4.7/5
   HP Pavilion 2016 Model Flagship HD 15.6-inch Laptop  $$  4.0/5
   ASUS Laptop F554LA-NH51 Intel Core i5 5200U  $$  4.2/5
   Acer 15.6″ Aspire Laptop E5-571-563B  $$$  4.0/5
   Acer Aspire V3-572G-587W 15.6-Inch Laptop  $$  4.3/5

5 Recommended Laptops

We have discussed some good measures in choosing a laptop and even safety features in order to keep your unit from overheating, which is the top issue that often plagues the unit. You can look for the best laptop under $500 among these 5 positively-rated laptops.

Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM

The Acer Aspire model in E5-575-33BM is a unit from Acer that is designed specifically for users who want to utilize the item for tasks at home, school or work. This 15” model is packed with excellent RAM, storage, connectivity, processor and more attributes that daily use employs. The laptop is ideal for students, office workers, media lovers, and frequent web surfers.

Pros

  • 4 GB memory with DDR4 RAM
  • Resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 1 TB 5400 RPM hard disk drive
  • 1 HDMI port with HDCP support
  • Has sleek and stunning industrial design
  • Perfect for easy tasks at work, school or home
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not ideal for hardcore gaming
  • Not recommended for high-end games

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is a wallet-friendly laptop that will give a stable, consistent and powerful performance for the price. It has an AMD Radeon R5 M335 graphics coprocessor so it can better handle all of your media and gaming needs. It is also packed with enough RAM at 8 GB so you can fully manage all of the multitasking you have on the unit.

The storage is taken care of by its 1 TB hard disk which provides sufficient room to keep games, media, and other related data. In terms of design, the unit has a neat and sleek appearance that’s lighter compared to other laptops. This is an affordable model that’s a good companion for work, school or home use.

Pros

  • Provides a smooth and fast performance thanks to the dual-core Intel Core i5-5200U processor
  • Very responsive touchpad
  • Excellent built-in speakers
  • DVD drive
  • 1 TB of storage
  • Sufficient RAM memory of 8 GB

Cons

  • Weak, low-quality build
  • Not powerful enough for gaming

HP Probook 455

The HP Probook wants to help you protect your data, and at the same time, provide an excellent performance, one that you can depend on for your everyday tasks. You can now work on your tasks with ease thanks to its aluminum-strengthened keyboard deck, back LCD cover design and 120,000 hours of the company’s testing.

Now you can accommodate all of your multitasking needs with the energy-efficient AMD A-Series APUs.3. The unit also includes an embedded TPM5 and HP BioSphere 4 to safeguard the laptop from BIOS attacks, malware, and viruses. It has a longer battery life than most, and it has features made to produce a striking audio and visual experience with options ranging from DTS studio sound and graphics.

Pros

  • Excellent 16 GB of RAM
  • Longer battery life
  • Affordable price
  • Includes backlit keyboard

Cons

  • Does not have SSD storage
  • Does not have dedicated graphics

Lenovo IdeaPad 300

The Lenovo IdeaPad 300 features advanced processing with the current processors from the Intel Core series. It has a 15.6” display which provides brightly lit, sharp visuals in 16:9 widescreen format. It has thrice the speed of standard Wi-Fi and this means you can stream your favorite music channels and movies online and share data faster.

It is an excellent laptop designed to satisfy your entertainment needs. Due to the inclusion of Dolby technology and great stereo speakers, movies and music will sound precise and loud. This is a backward-compatible model with up to 1 TB of storage so you can store all of your videos and MP3s.

Pros

  • Superior laptop for watching movies and listening to music
  • Great stereo speakers and the latest in Dolby technology
  • 1 TB of storage
  • FHD display
  • Has dedicated disk drive

Cons

  • Cannot be used for heavier tasks like video editing
  • Not ideal for gaming
  • Low-quality camera
  • Touchpad needs some improvement

ASUS C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook

The C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook is a flip-style unit with a 360° hinge and a touchscreen feature. It has a full HD screen, made with aluminum material body, has 4 GB RAM, 64 GB flash storage, an Intel Core processor, and longer battery life.

Due to its distinctive 360° hinge and touchscreen feature, you can make use of the unit in any way you want; use it as a laptop, a tablet, or make use of its tent and stand modes. It is a power-efficient model that can last for up to 10 hours on just one charge, so it is a perfect companion for traveling, school or work. Its smaller size makes it a handy means to keep you connected to the world all the time.

Pros

  • Unique convertible hinge design
  • Includes plenty of RAM and storage
  • Full HD screen
  • Metal body structure
  • 2 USB-C ports
  • Warranty has damage protection support
  • Crystal-clear, bright display
  • Includes backlit keyboard for easier typing in the dark

Cons

  • More expensive than other Chromebooks
  • Adapters are needed for legacy connections

Conclusion

There are many laptops on hand based on your needs and preferences; it is also pretty easy to find a model that will satisfy all of your requirements.

In order to know which model you need, you have to ask yourself what things you are looking for in a laptop. Do you frequently want to carry it around? Do you want a longer battery life? Do you want to play high-end games on it, or only use it for lightweight tasks? These are basically some of the essential questions that you have to tackle first before buying the best laptop under $500.